Always Right

(This story first appeared in “Snapshots at St. Arbuck’s Vol II”)

©2012 R.G. Ryan


I heard singing.

Behind me.

It was loud enough to compete with the in-store sound system at a typically busy St. Arbuck’s on a fall day that felt more like early summer.

I turned partway around in my chair to identify the melodic source and spotted a man seated behind me.

Ear buds firmly inserted, hands raised over his shaven head, fingers snapping, body moving and grooving to music only he could hear, and a smile of pure pleasure lighting up his middle-aged face.

It was Al Jarreau.

The song, not the guy.

We’re In This Love Together.

The man was doing a fine job of mimicking the scat section.

I glanced at his shoes.

I have a thing for shoes, well, HAD a thing—my beloved had to cut me off at Nordstrom.

But that’s a story for another day.

More’s the pity.

The designer shoes were undoubtedly Italian, as was his black, 100% wool blazer.

As for his shirt and jeans, it’s a safe bet they cost more than my first car.

In short, the guy reeked of money, which was doubtless stored in his richly leathered man-purse slung casually over the back of his chair.

Did I mention that his shades were D&G; probably to match the Light Blue Pour Homme cologne he was wearing.

I picked all of this up in about thirty seconds of observation.

He abandoned his reverie just long enough to grab a sip of coffee, during which time he flashed me a luminous smile before returning to his “happy place.”

Since his eyes were closed I took a few extra moments to observe him for he was a most fascinating fellow.

I nudged my beloved under the table and jerked my head in the man’s direction.

“Check out the shoes,” I whispered.

Lowering her morning paper she peered nonchalantly in his direction, formed a soundless whistle with her lips, and shook her lovely head.

“Don’t even think about it.”

“What?” I replied innocently all the while crafting an argument persuasive enough to lift the hated shoe moratorium.

“You know what,” said she before retreating behind the paper.

“I don’t have THAT many shoes.”

She lowered the paper just enough so I could see the cocked eyebrow.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced the cocked eyebrow but it is a powerful weapon when wielded by an expert, and my wife is nothing if not expert in its employment.

“But don’t you think those shoes would look good on me?”

She smiled. “Any shoes look good on you, dear, because you look good.”

It was a clever ruse—the old flatter-him-so-he-gets-distracted-from-what-he-really-wants ploy.

Well, it wasn’t going to work this time.

“Maybe so, but THOSE shoes would look really, really good,” said I not giving an inch.

She very slowly, deliberately and meticulously folded the paper into quarters, laid it on the table top and smoothed the edges with her freshly manicured fingers while batting her startlingly blue eyes (an action that has been known to make grown men weep) while saying, “Now, you know you aren’t going to win this argument, RG…you NEVER win this argument and I can’t for the life of me comprehend why you persist in even trying.”

It is ponderously irritating when you are married to someone who tends to be right ALL the time.

And she’s right ALL the time.

I hate that!

I said, “You don’t win ALL the time.”

I have an issue at times with failing to grasp the obvious.

She didn’t even answer but turned her attention back to the morning Sudoku.

I turned around only to see the man smiling at me, holding up his left hand and wiggling his fingers to show me he had no wedding ring and then he crossed his right leg over his left and waggled the beautiful shoe tauntingly.

He said in a thick Creole accent, “You be likin’ my shoes, eh brother?”

Nodding at the shoes I said, “Nordstrom?”

To which he replied, “Naw man…Nordstrom Rack. Half price.”

I turned to my wife, hoping to appeal to her sense of economy but she wouldn’t even look up from her stupid puzzle.

The man thought this hilarious and said, “My ex-wife used to do the very same thing.”

My wife looked up and said, “What, win all the arguments?”

“That too,” he said, laughing and slapping his thigh and then standing to go. “Truth is, I kind of miss her bein’ right all the time. It took a lot of pressure off of me.”

My wife turned toward me, a victorious smile on her face.

“Thanks a heap,” I said bitterly as the man walked off, still moving and grooving to his music, pausing to dance a few steps before exiting.

My wife said, “There goes a happy guy.”

“I had shoes like that, I’d be happy too!”

“Until the next time.”

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